Would it be too cheeky, too cliché, if I said that marketing clichés are a dime a dozen?
But the fact is, marketing clichés are SO overused that — if you take away brand assets like logo, color, etc. — you’d be hard pressed to know what company is giving you that same tired line of, “we take X to the next level!”
Here are 24 of the most-used marketing clichés, and what to say instead.
Cliché Is Getting Cliché
What do we mean when we say cliché?
If you ask me, we say cliché a lot — especially when it comes to branding and marketing clichés — so the word cliché may have even lost its meaning.
I mean, I’ve already used the word 10 times in this post up to this part (eek!).
If you’ve noticed, and been annoyed, you’re starting to see my point on how overused and overdone words and sayings can be bad for branding.
Here’s the definition according to Wiki:
“A cliché or cliche (/ˈkliːʃeɪ/ or /klɪˈʃeɪ/) is an expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has become overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect, even to the point of being trite or irritating, especially when at some earlier time it was considered meaningful or novel.”
The Giant List Of Marketing Clichés
Alphabetically listed, for your reading pleasure. 🙂
A: Always be testing.
What to say instead: We’re guilty of this one, too. How about “daily/weekly/monthly optimization” instead?
B: Bespoke. As in, we offer bespoke solutions.
What to say instead: Why not say custom? And then go ahead and spell that out (because let’s be honest, EVERYONE is “custom”)
C: Content is king.
What to say instead: This is just bad advice — it’s kinda like saying, “if you build it they will come.” Like Mark Schaefer says, “content is the starting line, NOT the finish line.” Try something like, “content is critical” and then tell your audience WHY.
Or, watch Mark’s video on content for some ideas on how this is cliché.
D: Dead. As in, [SEO/Twitter/Facebook/Organic Reach] is dead.
What to say instead: Stop being a clickbait monster and instead give your reader specifics and a reason to click. Example: Why SEO isn’t as important for content marketers in 2016.
E: Efficient or Effective
What to say instead: While these may describe you or your product/services, they don’t get specific on the end results. Get real (with case studies, testimonials or other outcomes and results).
F: Final. As in final days/weeks to save/book your ticket/etc.
What to say instead: Saying “final” doesn’t create urgency. Know what does? Real dates or a countdown timer. Duh.
G: Go the extra mile OR go above and beyond.
What to say instead: Anything that doesn’t sound like every other company (or pep talk) EVER.
H: Huge savings/discount.
What to say instead: Give the actual savings percentage or dollar amount. What’s huge to me may not be huge to you. Be specific.
I: Inspirational quotes.
What to say instead: Um, anything unique? Anything that’s not been turned into a meme and Instagrammed 7474294 times? How about something helpful?
Plus, a study on people who share these quotes found that these cliché marketers have “lower levels of intelligence.” No, adding the quote to your own branded meme doesn’t help. Sorry.
Now, if a “lower intelligence” audience is your target — GO FOR IT!
J: Just. As in, “just 9.99!”
What to say instead: This word is an authority killer! Find a word that’s not a “filler” word and makes your sentence stronger, not weaker.
K: Keep Calm and [insert anything here].
What to say instead: Anything but this! See “inspirational quotes” above. Gah.
L: Last chance.
What to say instead: Anything other than this (and doesn’t conjure up that business that has “last chance” sells every. single. month).
M: Move the needle.
What to say instead: Something more impactful … like, “let’s make a measurable impact.” 😉
N: Next level.
What to say instead: Instead say, “We increase customer service response times by 30%, and here’s how…” Again, get specific.
O: Outside the box.
What to say instead: Something that actually describes how you’re different. Plus, I like Seth Godin’s idea of thinking on the edges of the box.
P: Paradigm shift.
What to say instead: Too jargon-y. Go simple and use one of these instead:
- critical change
- major adjustment, or
- fundamental difference
What to say instead: Any other word that denotes quality but isn’t uttered in every 1 out of 3 branding messages.
R: Results-oriented or results-driven.
What to say instead: Anything else. Because who wants a company/service that is anything less??
What to say instead: Like results-oriented, this is too overplayed to continue to use. Solutions-driven marketers, brands, products or services look to solve a problem.
And if you/your brand/your company aren’t doing that, you probably won’t be in business long enough to keep using this marketing cliché.
T: Trained professional.
What to say instead: How about just professional? (Because isn’t it redundant to be a trained professional??)
What to say instead: Anything that’s not as cliché as unique!
What to say instead: There are literally hundreds of ways to avoid saying very. Go for it!
W: World class.
What to say instead. How about the truth? Unless you’ve been graced with this seriously big-time title by someone seriously big time, don’t use it.
Y: Your [insert industry term or jargon here] needs. As in, “we offer all-encompassing packages depending on your social media needs.”
What to say instead: Don’t live in a sea of vagueness as the above statement does. It sounds like they have no idea what your needs are.
Get specific and use client FAQs or case studies where you’ve solved specific problems to get real about “your [client’s] needs.”
Note: X and Z are missing, but if you have marketing clichés that fit these categories don’t hesitate to school me.
The Biggest (And Possibly Cliché) Advice For Marketing Clichés
If you made it all the way through that long list of marketing clichés, you should have noticed that the best way to ensure you’re not doing something that’s overdone is to be specific.
You simply can’t differentiate your brand, products or services in today’s world by repeating what everyone else is already saying.
Have any marketing clichés to add to this big, giant list? Let me know in the comments section below!
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Brooke B. Sellas is the in-the-trenches Founder & CEO of @HelloBSquared, an award-winning social media, advertising, and customer care agency. She's also the Co-host of The Marketing Companion podcast with Mark Schaefer, where they discuss jaw-dropping marketing trends. Brooke's marketing mantra is “Think Conversation, Not Campaign” so be sure to give her a shout!
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